>> Saturday, April 21, 2007
TABUK, Kalinga – Police have launched a manhunt for a certain Joel Melod, 24, tagged as principal suspect in the killing of incumbent vice governor and gubernatorial candidate Rommel Wandag Diasen even as the Commission on Elections is currently determining if the municipalities of Pinukpuk, Pasil, Lubuagan, and Tanudan, all in this province, are to be declared “areas of immediate concerns” in connection with the May 14 Elections.
To hasten investigation of the case, Task Group Diasen was immediately organized by the Philippine National Police Regional Office with Kalinga Police Director Severino Cruz as head of the team.
Cruz is being assisted by Senior Supt. Wilfredo Franco. The team held a meeting last April 9 and later held a dialogue with Tabuk Mayor Camillo Lammawin Jr., Floydelia Diasen, and Gov Dominador Belac Sr.
The case conference, interview of witnesses, and dialogues, the police said, resulted in the preparation of an artist’s sketch of the alleged gunman.
Cruz said the motive of the killing is still unknown even as police are negotiating the surrender of the suspect.
Diasen, 58, was shot last April 7 in Barangay Magnao, Tabuk, Kalinga while he was delivering a speech during a campaign sortie.
He was taken to the Kalinga Provincial Hospital but died at about 2:45 p.m. of the same day.
This, as tribal vendetta, aside from politics, is still being investigated by authorities as motive in the killing of Diasen.
Regional police spokesman Supt. Joseph Adnol said police probing Diasen’s killing had noted the assassination of former Judge Milnar Lammawin two years ago which they believed also stemmed from tribal disputes.
Lammawin was killed by gunmen from Mountain Province where Diasen has his native roots.
Although a long-time resident of Tabuk, Kalinga, where he served as town mayor for three consecutive terms since 1986, Diasen is a native of Mountain Province.
Adnol said Diasen, incumbent vice governor of the province, was killed in the village where some of the relatives of Lammawin also live.
Diasen, the gubernatorial bet of administration Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats, was allegedly shot at close range by Melod.
The suspect, armed with Cal. 45 pistol, went up the stage where Diasen was delivering a speech and shot him six times at close range in the head and body.
Meanwhile, Provincial Election Officer Attorney Thomas Uyam said there had been reports of ballot snatching and threats in the four municipalities Pinukpuk, Pasil, Lubuagan, and Tanudan, in the 2004 local elections, prompting the Comelec to include the areas in the list of areas of immediate concerns.
Asked if Tabuk is to be included in the list due to the recent killing of Diasen, Uyam said that it is a possibility, because the incident is already a manifestation that there is the presence of armed threat in the locality.
He said a place could be identified as an area of immediate concerns if there are manifestation of armed threats such as the reports of loose fire arms, insurgency, coercion or ballot snatching.
He said the Philippine National Police could recommend a place as an area of immediate concerns if there are manifestations of armed threat and that the PNP needs to augment its forces to ensure the security and peace at the area.
In a related development, Comelec Commissioner Resurrection Borra, during a recent press briefing, said commissioners and other election field officers will conduct filed visit if there are areas to be placed under Comelec control.
The move came after the killing of Diasen and Petronilo Amorin Jr., the poll officer in Palawan province.
He said commissioners and other field officers would assess the peace and order situation in these places.